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How To Activate Using Key Management Service (KMS)

January 11, 2024 3.8K views

The Key Management Service (KMS) is a Microsoft service for activating an organization's Windows and Office software. It helps simplify the activation process, particularly in a network, as it works without the need to contact Microsoft’s servers for activation. Generally, a “key” is usually provided to allow users to activate their product online. Meanwhile, this method is considered time-consuming and often prone to errors.

Fortunately, Microsoft offers an alternative solution to online activation called the Key Management Service (KMS). However, since it is a relatively new method of activation, a couple of users find it confusing. So, what's KMS, and how does it work? This article is an overview of Key Management Service and how you can activate Windows and Office products using it.

What is a Key Management Service (KMS)?

A Key Management Service (KMS) is a utility tool for safely storing, managing, and backing up cryptographic keys. Generally, the various types of keys that each KMS supports vary from one platform to another. Virtually, most key management services permit you to manage one or more secret keys. They include SSL certificates, private keys, SSH key pairs, API keys, code-signing private keys, document-signing private keys, and database encryption keys.

When using key management services, you can rest assured that your secret keys will be intact. That's because the tool is designed to prevent the key from being lost or stolen, which usually leads to a data breach, data loss, or downtime. The basic features of key management services vary to some extent. But you should expect to see features like:

  • Web-based interface (to manage your cryptographic keys).

  • APIs and/or plugins (for integrating KMS with your servers, systems, and software).

  • Safe storage and backup of individual private keys (usually on a hardware security module).

How To Activate Windows with Key Management Services

To use KMS, you must have a KMS host available on your local network. A specific product key is required for computers that activate with a KMS host. The Microsoft Generic Volume License Key (GVLK) is the official name for this key, which is also commonly referred to as the KMS client key. Also, it is worth noting that Retail, OEM, MSDN, or MSDNAA versions of Windows cannot be activated using the KMS service.

Computers running volume licensing editions of Windows Server and Windows client are already configured as GVLK clients. Hence, they are considered KMS clients by default.

Having that in mind, follow the steps below to activate Windows with KMS:

Step 1: Open the “Administrative Command Prompt”

Launching the command prompt


The first step involves opening the command prompt as an administrator. To do that, hit the Win + R on your keyboard.  Enter "cmd" into the Run dialog box, then press Ctrl + Shift + Enter. This will launch Command Prompt as an administrator.

Step 2: Install the “KMS” Key

Installing the

Enter the following command in an administrative terminal to install the "KMS" key:

slmgr /ipk /ipk KMS_host_key>

Replace "KMS_host_key>" with the KMS host key received from Microsoft here. Once you've installed the "KMS" key on your PC, run the following command to activate it and ensure you're connected to the internet:

/ato slmgr.vbs.

Step 3: Verify the Activation

Verifying activation with the KMS server


Open the "Command Prompt" and use the "slmgr" command-line tool to check the activation status by inputting the following command:

/dlv /slmgr

A new window will come up after executing the preceding command. Look for "License  Status." If it reads "Licensed," it means Windows 10 has been successfully activated.

Also, look for the "Configured Activation Type" part to see if you're KMS-activated

How to Activate Office With Key Management Service

Activating Office Key Management Service (KMS) is a process used by organizations to activate multiple Microsoft Office (such as Office 2016 and Office 2019) installations using a centralized server rather than individual product keys. To activate Office using KMS, follow these steps:

Step 1: Get a KMS Host Key

The first thing is to ensure that Microsoft Office is installed on the computers you want to activate using KMS. Also, you'll need a KMS host key from Microsoft. This key is used to set up your KMS server. You can request this key through the Microsoft Volume Licensing Service Center (VLSC) or your Microsoft Volume Licensing representative.

Step 2: Set Up a KMS Host Server

Setting up a KMS host server


Choose a Windows Server computer to be your KMS host. It should be a dedicated server for this purpose. Then, install the KMS host key on the server using the following command, replacing "Your-KMS-Host-Key" with your actual KMS host key.

cscript C:\Windows\System32\mgr.vbs/1pk Your-KMS-Host-Key

After that, activate the KMS host key on the server with the following command:

cscript C:\Windows\System32\slmgr.vbs /ato

Step 3: Configure the KMS Host

Configuring the KMS Host


Once you're done with activation, you need to configure the host server to listen for Office activation requests. Use the following command:

cscript C:\Windows\System32\slmgr.vbs /skms your-kms-server-name-or-ip

Ensure you replace "your-kms-server-name-or-ip" with the hostname or IP address of your KMS host server.

Step 4: Activate Office Clients

Activating Office Clients


The next step is to activate Office clients. Open a command prompt with administrator privileges on the computers where you have Microsoft Office installed. Use the following command to activate Office using the KMS server:

cscript "C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office16\ospp.vbs" /sethst:your-kms-server-name-or-ip

Ensure you replace "your-kms-server-name-or-ip" with the hostname or IP address of your KMS host server.

After that, activate Office on each computer by running:

cscript "C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office16\ospp.vbs" /act

Remember that the path to the "ospp.vbs" script may vary depending on your Office and installation path.

Step 5: Verify Activation

Verifying KMS activation of Microsoft Office


To confirm that Office is successfully activated through your KMS server, you can check the activation status on individual computers by running:

cscript "C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office16\ospp.vbs" /dstatus

There you have it! Your Microsoft Office installations should now be activated using the Key Management Service. Ensure that your KMS host server remains active and reachable for continued activation of Office clients.

Why Use WPS Office?

Key Management Services (KMS) is a technology for managing encryption keys and certificates, while WPS Office is an office productivity suite for creating and editing documents, spreadsheets, and presentations. They serve different purposes but can be used together to secure documents and data stored within an office suite.

However, we recommend that you download and use WPS Office as an alternative to Microsoft Office. Below are some of the reasons you should use WPS Office over Microsoft Office:

Price

WPS and Microsoft Office are both premium software. However, the two office suites offer a free version that can be used to test out some of the software's features. The premium version, on the other hand, provides the best Office suite experience. WPS is considerably less expensive than Microsoft Office, with the Premium version costing $29.99 per year.

With the premium version, you may connect up to nine devices at once (3 PCs and 6 mobile devices). You can also get up to 20GB of cloud storage space, access to the cloud collaboration option, ad-free usage, and much more.

Compatibility

WPS and Microsoft Office work with a wide range of operating systems. However, whether you have a Windows, Linux, Mac, iOS, or Android device, it must meet the minimal system requirements to execute this software.

To operate Microsoft Office successfully, you need a device with at least two cores, a clock speed of at least 1.6 GHz, two gigabytes of RAM, and four gigabytes of disk space for Windows or ten gigabytes for Mac.

In contrast, the system requirements for running the WPS office are significantly lower. To install and use the WPS software, you must have a Pentium II processor with a clock speed of 266 MHz or higher. In addition, the computer must have at least 128MB of RAM and 200MB of storage space, which a smartphone can offer effortlessly.

Since WPS has lesser system requirements, it is possible to install and run this office suite on a low-end or older machine.

Features

WPS and Microsoft Office are comprehensive Office suites that include a variety of productivity features and functionalities. These features are typically used by office professionals, students, or for personal use and include a word processor, spreadsheet software, and so on.

It may interest you to know that WPS Office provides more advanced features cost-effectively compared to Microsoft Office.

User-friendly Interface

WPS and Microsoft Office interfaces appear very similar, especially in terms of presentation and design. The user interface of these Office Suites, however, varies. WPS has a more streamlined and modern interface than Microsoft Office, which makes it more appealing.

WPS has a tabbed design that allows you to swiftly and easily switch between documents. WPS also contains a ribbon toolbar, similar to Microsoft Office, which makes it easy to access formatting and editing functionalities.

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FAQs

What is Key Management Services (KMS) activation planning?

KMS is a utility tool for volume activation that uses a client-server model to activate clients. For activation, KMS clients must connect to a KMS server known as the KMS host on your network.

However, KMS hosts do not need to be dedicated servers, as KMS can coexist with other services. A KMS host can be installed on any physical or virtual system running a compatible Windows Server or Windows client operating system.

Also, it is worth noting that a KMS host running Windows Server can activate computers running server and client operating systems. But a KMS host running Windows Client can not activate computers running server and client operating systems. It can only activate computers running client operating systems.

You need a key called the KMS host key to activate or authenticate the KMS host with Microsoft before you can use KMS. This key is also known as the Microsoft Customer Specific Volume License Key (CSVLK).


How Key Management Works?

Key Management refers to the process of putting certain standards in place to ensure the security of cryptographic keys. It works within a lifecycle of processes that are required to guarantee the key is securely created, kept, used, and rotated.

The generation of a key is the first step in ensuring its security. If the key in question is generated using a weak encryption algorithm or in an insecure region, any attacker might easily uncover the encryption key's value.  

The next step in the key lifecycle is to ensure that the keys are distributed safely. Hence, it must be distributed via a secure TLS or SSL connection to ensure that it is safe.

After distribution, the key is used for cryptographic activities. The key should only be used by authorized individuals to ensure it is not misused, copied, or compromised. The key must be saved for subsequent decoding after using it to encrypt data.

When a key's crypto period, or the time period during which the key is usable expires, the key must be rotated. If an encrypted set of data's key expires, it is retired and replaced with a fresh key. When a key is compromised, revoking or destroying it is the best thing to do.

Summary

Conclusively, installing a KMS host key on a computer running Windows version allows you to activate Windows and Office products. Being a relatively new method of activation, many users may find it challenging to use. Meanwhile, with the steps above, you should be able to get it right.

Should you prefer an alternative to Microsoft Office, we recommend using WPS Office. With its remarkable features similar to that of Microsoft Office, it's worth a trial. In essence, you don't have to go through the hurdles of activation when you work with WPS Office.


15 years of office industry experience, tech lover and copywriter. Follow me for product reviews, comparisons, and recommendations for new apps and software.